Starting on the first Sunday in January a number of U.S. newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Denver Post, Vancouver Sun, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and The Detroit News all plan on adding two English language manga strips to their Sunday Comics sections. The reason for the addition of manga is simple -- with the average age of newspaper readers now pegged at 53 and getting older all the time, newspapers want to attract younger readers, the kind of readers who have made manga one of the fastest growing categories in bookstores over the past five years.
The two manga strips that will test the waters in the full color world of Sunday supplements are both OEL (original English language) titles from Tokyopop: Van Von Hunter by Ron Kaulfersch and Mike Schwark and Peach Fuzz by Lindsay Chibos and Jared Hodges. Both titles are being represented by the prestigious Universal Press Syndicate -- and, along with Tokyopop's recent success in placing a manga strip in CosmoGirl (see 'Manga in CosmoGirl'), the addition of manga to the venerable Sunday funnies represents an excellent opportunity for enlarging the audience for manga-style storytelling. The question is, will the new strips attract younger readers and lead to spread of manga comic strips to more newspapers, in markets large and small, across the United States and Canada -- and will they pave the way for Japanese humor strips such as Azumanga Daioh?